Saturday, January 30, 2016

Re-Watch Reviews, Episode 002: "11:59" - Voyager 5x23

Hey everyone! For anyone interested, here is the next episode of my Star Trek re-watch project. This week, it's Voyager's "11:59," a decidedly non-Star Trek like episode from the 5th season.

Let me know what you think in the comments, and stay tuned for more episodes as the weeks go by!

Last episode: "11001001" - TNG 1x15

Friday, January 29, 2016

The Good That Men Do

Star Trek: Enterprise
The Good That Men Do by Andy Mangels & Michael A. Martin
Published March 2007
Read January 25th 2016

Previous book (Enterprise): Last Full Measure

Next book (Enterprise): Kobayashi Maru

Spoilers ahead for Homecoming!

From the back cover:
Pax Galactica. Enemies become allies. Old secrets are at last revealed. Long-held beliefs and widely accepted truths are challenged. Man turns to leisurely pursuits. 
In this golden age, two old friends are drawn together. They seek to understand, and wonder how what they have long believed, what they have been taught was never so. 
Over two hundred years ago, the life of one of Starfleet's earliest pioneers came to a tragic end, and Captain Jonathan Archer, the legendary commander of Earth's first warp five starship, lost a close friend. Or so it seemed for many years. But with the passage of time, and the declassification of certain crucial files, the truth about that fateful day – the day that Commander Charles "Trip" Tucker III didn't die – could finally be revealed. 
Why did Starfleet feel it was necessary to rewrite history? And why only now can the truth be told?

My thoughts:

While the series Star Trek: Enterprise had a somewhat shaky start, by the end of the fourth season it had become one of my favorite television shows. Of the spinoffs, I still enjoy The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine more, but Enterprise outclasses Voyager in my opinion. And by season four, it was firing on all cylinders. However, the series finale unfortunately left much to be desired. Touted as a "valentine to the fans," "These Are the Voyages" was anything but. Therefore, when it was announced that a novel would undo the most egregious errors from that episode, I was definitely on board.

The Good That Men Do is a singularly unique novel in the Star Trek franchise. Never before (to my knowledge) has there been a Trek novel that contradicts what we saw in canon Trek after the fact. The interesting thing about this instance is the way the novel gets around the issues. Because the events in "These Are the Voyages" were a holodeck re-creation, a little more latitude is allowed in their interpretation. The central premise of The Good That Men Do is that the "true" history of what happened to Trip Tucker was covered up by Section 31, and it is only in the 25th century that the truth is coming out.

The Good That Men Do undoes a lot of what was wrong with "These Are the Voyages," while still operating within the bounds of the story.

If you had told me that the above premise is where Trip's character was headed before this novel came out, I would have laughed in your face. It is a testament to how well this novel is written that this idea plays out as not only plausible, but completely understandable given where his character is taken emotionally in this book. Trip as an undercover operative works because Mangels and Martin do the necessary legwork to bring him to a place where it is the logical path for him to take. Even small things about Tucker's character are cited to good effect, including his affability and ability to disarm and befriend various peoples using only his charm and wit. (See: "Unexpected," "Oasis," "Dawn," "Precious Cargo," "Awakening," etc.)

The novel itself, while dense, is very tightly written. Alternating between a couple of major plotlines along with one minor one and a bare-bones framing story, The Good That Men Do is an engrossing read. The post-series era of Enterprise is a period of time rife with story potential, and this novel makes use of that brilliantly. Part of me wonders if the constraints placed on the story by the circumstances of "These Are the Voyages" actually helped to create a better narrative by providing a narrow focus for the story.

The Pirates' attack on Enterprise isn't all that it seems in The Good That Men Do.

Some people may dismiss this novel as simply "fan service," giving fans of Enterprise what they wanted after the series finale failed to deliver. On one level, this is true. However, if this novel qualifies as "fan service," consider me a fan of fan service. The characters here are pitch perfect, not relying on tropes or old patterns, but charting a new course into unfamiliar waters. I was honestly surprised that the outline for this novel was approved given that it seemingly contradicts what we get on-screen, but I am certainly grateful that it was.

Final thoughts:

A tightly-plotted, well-written story that leaves us in a much better place than the awful final episode of Enterprise. The characters all felt real, and the motivations for their actions felt surprisingly genuine. With the exception of Star Trek: Destiny, The Good That Men Do is probably the novel I recommend the most to my friends to get them hooked on Trek books. This is the height of Mangels and Martin's Trek work, in my opinion. A fun novel from start to finish that rights a few of the wrongs visited upon us by "These Are the Voyages."

More about The Good That Men Do:

Also by Andy Mangels & Michael A. Martin:
Next time on Trek Lit Reviews:

Another new release, this time from my favorite of the current novel series: A Pocket Full of Lies, the latest Voyager novel by Kirsten Beyer!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Literary Treks 136: Temporal Mechanics Chess Game

Deep Space Nine: Ascendance
Interview with author David R. George III!

The Deep Space Nine relaunch had been building to a showdown with the Ascendants, and The Soul Key left fans with a massive cliffhanger. However, with Star Trek: Destiny bringing all the crews together, the Ascendants storyline was dropped in order to align the DS9 books with the rest of the 24th century. Fans have long wondered what transpired with the Ascendants and how it spurred major changes for many of the DS9 characters, and luckily the answers have finally arrived!

In this episode of Literary Treks, hosts Matthew Rushing and Dan Gunther are joined by author David R. George III to talk his latest Deep Space Nine book: Ascendance. We discuss weaving the tapestry, research, what to tell and what not to tell, prophesies, character arcs, Sisko, faith and belief, working things in, what's next, and where to find David online.

In the news segment, we let everyone know that we are covering The Good That Men Do next week.

Literary Treks 136: Temporal Mechanics Chess Game
Deep Space Nine: Ascendance: Interview with David R. George III

Previous episode: Literary Treks 135: Spock's Vulcan Occult Library

Next episode: Literary Treks 137: Retcon Love Letter

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Release Day! Voyager: A Pocket Full of Lies by Kirsten Beyer

Star Trek: Voyager
A Pocket Full of Lies by Kirsten Beyer

Since the release of Full Circle, the Voyager "relaunch" novels under Kirsten Beyer have been some of the most consistently excellent books in the Star Trek fiction line. That series continues this month with the release of A Pocket Full of Lies, chronicling the continuing mission of Voyager and the Full Circle fleet in the Delta Quadrant!

Look below for the back-cover blurb and links to purchase from Amazon.

Publisher's description:
The Full Circle Fleet has resumed its unprecedented explorations of the Delta Quadrant and former Borg space. Commander Liam O'Donnell of the USS Demeter makes a promising first contact with the Nihydron–humanoid aliens that are collectors of history. They rarely interact with the species they study but have created a massive database of numerous races, inhabited planets, and the current geopolitical landscape of a large swath of the quadrant. When an exchange of data is proposed via a formal meeting, the Nihydron representatives are visibly shaken when Admiral Kathryn Janeway greets them. For almost a century, two local species—the Rilnar and the Zahl—have fought for control of the nearby planet Sormana, with both sides claiming it as their ancestral homeworld. The shocking part is that for the last several years, the Rilnar have been steadily gaining ground, thanks to the tactics of their current commanding officer: a human woman, who appears to be none other than Kathryn Janeway herself...

Purchase Ascendance:

Mass-market paperback: | |
E-book (Kindle): | |

Previous Release: Deep Space Nine: Ascendance
Next Release: The Original Series: Miasma (e-book exclusive)

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Kertrats' Star Trek Re-Watch Reviews!

I love Star Trek novels, and I'm still committed to continuing this site and reviewing Star Trek books, both old and new. However, I have dipped my toe into another arena: online video!

Here's a peek at another project I'm working on: a re-watch of every episode and movie from the Star Trek universe... in alphabetical order!

Check out the first episode - my review of "11001001" from TNG's first season - and let me know what you think in the comments! I'm working on getting the website for this project up and running, but in the meantime, here is a link to the Facebook page for Kertrats Productions. If you want to see more stuff like this, including movie reviews, videos on other Trek topics, and more, give Kertrats Productions a like to follow my posts there!

We also have a YouTube channel, which can be found here.

We don't have a lot on there yet, but we're looking to grow the channel with new and exciting content! Subscribe to keep up to date on our ongoing video projects.

Next Episode: "11:59" - Voyager 5x23

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Literary Treks 135: Spock's Vulcan Occult Library

The Gold Key Comics Volume 2, Part 1

If the writers and artist in "Far Beyond the Stars" who worked with Benny wrote and illustrated a comic that imagined the universe of Star Trek, what they would have produced would have surely looked and felt like the Gold Key Comics.

In this episode of Literary Treks, hosts Matthew Rushing and Dan Gunther talk about The Gold Key Archives Volume 2. We discuss the evolution of the comics, "Voodoo Planet," "The Youth Trap," "The Legacy of Lazarus," and our final thoughts.

In the news section we look at the newest comics: Starfleet Academy #2, Ongoing #53, and New Visions #10.

Literary Treks 135: Spock's Vulcan Occult Library
The Gold Key Archives Volume 2, Part 1

Previous episode: Literary Treks 134: Are We On the Millennium Falcon?

Next episode: Literary Treks 136: Temporal Mechanics Chess Game

Tuesday, January 12, 2016


Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Ascendance by David R. George III
Release date: December 29th 2015
Read January 10th 2016

Previous book (Deep Space Nine): Sacraments of Fire

Next book (Deep Space Nine): Force and Motion

Spoilers ahead for Ascendance!

From the back cover:
The post-television Deep Space Nine saga continues with this original novel from New York Times bestselling author David R. George III!

On the original Deep Space Nine, Captain Kira Nerys watches as the nearby wormhole opens and discharges a single, bladelike vessel. Attempts to contact its crew fail, and the ship is soon followed by another vessel of similar design. When an armada subsequently begins to emerge from the wormhole, it seems clear that DS9 is under attack. Kira orders her first officer, Commander Elias Vaughn, to board the U.S.S. Defiant and defend the station, and alerts Starfleet to send additional forces as her crew prepares DS9’s shields and weaponry for the onslaught to come.

Meanwhile, on the lead ship, Iliana Ghemor considers launching an attack on DS9 and finally ending the life of Kira, the fountainhead of all the ills in her miserable life. Her vengeance demands more than mere death, though—it requires pain. Ghemor refocuses, choosing to follow her plan to mete out her revenge on the captain by first decimating the population of Bajor…

My thoughts:

In last year's DS9 novel Sacraments of Fire, we got a taste of the Ascendant storyline at long last, with it having been abandoned a few years ago when the Star Trek novel line changed editors. Now, we get the continuation of that story in this month's new novel, Ascendance.

The novel is largely split into two parts, the first dealing with the Ascendant attack on Bajor in the 2370s. We learn how the attack was carried out, Iliana Ghemor's ultimate fate, and the role that Taran'atar and the Even Odds played in thwarting the attack. While it is nice to get some resolution to these events, the true meaning behind what happened and the fallout from it isn't fully realized until we get to the "current" period of the novel.

Iliana Ghemor's fate is finally revealed!

In Sacraments of Fire, Odo traveled to a secret Starfleet facility to assist researchers there in investigating a massive life-form that exhibits some of the characteristics of a Changeling. In this novel, after Odo touches the creature, it breaks containment and flees the system, heading for Bajor and the wormhole. The Defiant under the command of Commander Stinson attempts to stop it, but instead, the Changeling-esque being completely envelops the ship and then mimics it in perfect detail. It then cloaks and resumes its course for the Bajoran system.

The final reveal of what exactly this life-form is and how it connects to the events surrounding the Ascendant attack is really very surprising, and something I definitely did not see coming.

There is a lot to like in Ascendance. As is the case with Deep Space Nine in general and the post-finale novels in particular, the character work is a definite standout. In the last novel, the focus was on Colonel Cenn Desca, and in this book, it's Commander Wheeler Stinson we learn more about. This continued focus on the newer characters is very welcome, as I feel there is still a lot to learn about most of the new faces on Deep Space Nine.

I also particularly enjoyed Ro Laren's arc in this story, mirroring Cenn Desca's. Whereas the recent discovery of a "falsework" has shattered his faith, it has opened up Ro to the possibility that the Prophets really are divine beings, a choice on the part of DRG that I find very interesting. I'm curious to see where her journey will take her.

I enjoyed Ro Laren's arc in this story, and I'm curious to see where it goes from here.

While Ascendance wraps up a number of storylines, it opens and leaves hanging a few new ones. What has become of Vic Fontaine's program, and will Nog be able to rectify his program? What about Morn? Quark continues his search for the absent barfly in this novel, but it is never resolved.

Finally, I do have to say that I am a little disappointed in the path that Sisko seems to be on now. While he feels that his time as the Emissary is at an end, I can't help but think that there is still more for The Sisko to do in his role as Emissary of the Prophets. Perhaps his voyage into the Gamma Quadrant aboard the Robinson will reveal a new path for the Emissary, but I sincerely hope that he still has a role to play in the affairs of Bajor. Only time will tell.

I hope we get to see more of Sisko as the Emissary in the future.

Final thoughts:

A solid entry in the 24th century continuity, and an explanation of the Ascendant attack on Bajor that has been a long time in coming! I enjoyed this story for the most part, and I am thrilled that Deep Space Nine is a regular feature in the novel line up once again. Here's hoping for many more stories to come aboard this new DS9. We won't have to wait long; Force and Motion by Jeffrey Lang is coming soon!

More about Ascendance:

Also by David R. George III:

Next time on Trek Lit Reviews:

The Good That Men Do, the ret-con of the abomination of a series finale, Enterprise's "These Are the Voyages."